TRACY — Brian Goulart nodded in the direction of Kimball’s dugout and gave his kudos after his East Union softball team was knocked around by the Jaguars for a second time in 10 days on Monday.
The Lancers at least showed some fight in the rematch, an 8-3 defeat. It was somewhat of a different story on April 12 when the Jaguars pounced early and often en route to a 9-0 drubbing.
“Stud pitcher,” Goulart said of Samantha Sarmiento, Kimball’s ground-ball specialist who struck out one while leaning on her defense to make the routine plays.
“Their shortstop is the best player in the league,” he added, lauding University of Virginia-bound Arianna Hawkins who was 2 for 2 with an RBI sacrifice fly.
So what is it about Kimball (6-3, 14-6 overall) that has given the Lancers (7-3, 16-5-1) more trouble than any other club in the loaded Valley Oak League?
“It’s not Kimball. It’s us,” Goulart said.
East Union is in the middle of a slump while in the middle of the toughest stretch of its league schedule. The loss knocks EU out of a first-place tie with Sierra and Oakdale, and it doesn’t get any easier Wednesday when the Lancers head to Oakdale to face a team itching to avenge a 7-4 loss.
Just two weeks ago, EU was atop the VOL as its only undefeated team. It has since dropped three of four, including last Wednesday’s heartbreaking 4-3 walk-off loss to Manteca.
“We’re going to shake up the lineup and see if we can get something done differently,” Goulart said.
He was quick to pull the trigger on Monday after Kimball took a 3-0 lead thanks to two errors that led to three unearned runs in the first two innings. Starting left fielder Samantha Owen moved to right in the second inning, then to shortstop in the third.
It was Owen who sparked East Union’s comeback rally in the fourth. She swatted a two-base hit — the first of the contest for the Lancers — to lead off the frame and scooted to third on Michelle Castro’s bloop single to right. Both runners scored after Alejandra Rascon’s deep fly ball was dropped near the center-field fence. Laura Gann’s RBI fielder’s choice plated the equalizer.
Kimball’s bats came alive in the bottom half. Gabbi Cox jump started the five-run assault with a triple and was later followed by Danielle Lallos’ RBI double, Anisha Richardson’s RBI double and Amanda Riley’s two-run single.
Lallos finished 3 for 4, and Alison Corlis was 2 for 3 with a run for Kimball.
East Union had a base runner in each of the final three innings but didn’t threaten to score again.
East Union 10, Kimball 6
The Squires (10-1 VOL, 22-1 overall) held off Kimball to set up Wednesday’s first-place showdown with Oakdale.
Amy Gann and Valerie Ramos supplied much of the offense. Gann legged out two triples and a double while driving in two runs in a 3-for-4 effort. Ramos went 2 for 3 with a home run, a triple and five RBIs. Kaycee Petersen was also 3 for 4, and Deja Guzman went 2 for 4 with a double and a triple.